How to deal with training contract rejection

Unfortunately, when applying to training contracts, it is likely you will receive a number of rejections before being accepted to the ideal one. As a result, it is important to learn how to deal will rejections and how to make the most out of misfortune.

  • Last updated Jul 12, 2019 2:12:30 PM
  • Jos Weale

What’s the best way to react when you have to handle training contract rejection? Throw your laptop across the room screaming, “I’ll never love again!” and tear up all of your firm research notes in a spectacular showdown? Sure; if the drama helps to calm you down then go ahead – knock yourself out.

Of course, training contract rejection hurts – especially if it’s not the first time it has happened. But if you want to be a solicitor (or anything else for that matter in the current economic climate) getting the grumps, incessantly debating the injustice of it all, or just giving up altogether certainly isn’t going to get you anywhere.

A key thing to remember if you get a rejection: it’s nothing personal. Each law firm has very specific qualities they look for, and just because you weren’t quite the right fit for one doesn’t mean by any stretch that there isn’t a law firm out there for you.

If you're looking for a list of others to apply for, head over to our Training Contracts section.

Applying for training contracts is tough                                                          

Granted, The Beatles probably didn’t have law training contract applications quite at the front of their minds when they wrote The Long and Winding Road, but we’ll happily nick that reference. Applying for training contracts is a tough process, and there are inevitably going to be setbacks and confidence knocks along the way.

The truth is that law is one of the most competitive sectors out there. Currently, there are only around a mere 36 contracts to every 200 law students each year. So when you look at it that way, it’s pretty clear you’re not the only one getting rejected. The question is, what are you going to do about it?

The good lawyer action plan

Clichéd though is, you really do need to pick yourself up, keep going, and be proactive, use this to your advantage. Good lawyers are tenacious, and rejection can also give you the opportunity to mature by learning from your mistakes and applying what you learn in your next application or interview.

There is also a chance you didn’t make it to the next stage because your law CV is lacking in something the firm was looking for. Is there anything more you could be doing to beef up those applications? Work experience is always valued; is there still some time to fit in some extra pro bono work? It’s always best to start building your CV as soon as possible, but if there is anything else you can do to develop your commercial awareness it’s certainly worth it.

Use your support network

You’re not alone in your quest. The Careers Team at your law school or university are well experienced and are there to make sure you give yourself the best shot possible through the application process. Keep on booking yourself in for CV clinics, one-to-one application advice sessions and mock interviews, speak to your tutor and iron out those confidence issues.

Ask for feedback if you reached the interview stage. Any comments or advice from the interviewers will help you to identify where you might have been going wrong, and you can use it constructively to ensure you won’t make the same mistake twice.

Stay positive!

A defeatist attitude never really got anyone anywhere. Use your disappointment to spur you on in your next applications, take advice on board and you’ll be able to bounce back and bag that contract eventually.

Have you heard of the alternatives?

Finally, a training contract isn’t your only way into a legal career. A paralegal or Legal Executive role can involve many of the same duties as a solicitor. There is still something to be said for having a foot in the door and working your way up, and there are solicitors who began their legal careers as paralegals. Click here to find out more about the paralegal route.

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